The Obama Administration Budget proposed for 2013 for the VA is $140.3 billion. $76.3 billion is for mandatory benefits such as disability compensation and pensions. The remaining $64 billion is for discretionary spending, primarily for medical care.*
The discretionary spending amount represents a 4.5% increase from the current year. This is more than $4 billion less than the major veterans organizations call for in The Independent Budget. Of particular note is the “minuscule” increase in medical and prothetic research of $1.6 million and in VA facility construction, according to the VFW.*
The CVO position on this budget is that all medical costs ought to be done by formula and counted under the mandatory spending, just as benefits and pensions are. This is what we mean by Full Mandatory Funding of VA healthcare benefits. The formula should be:
(The Number of Veterans to be Treated) x (The Average Cost for Treating a Veteran) x (A Factor for Increased Cost of Medical Care from Year to Year) = (Total Medical Care Allocation in the Proposed Budget)
CVO also demands for full eligibility for VA healthcare for all veterans. This means that the number of veterans to be treated in the above formula, should take into consideration how many veterans would use the VA healthcare system if all veterans had free and unencumbered access to the VA.
If there was full eligibility for VA healthcare, the humiliating and despised Means Test—by which veterans are segregated into different “Priority Groups” based on their income and other factors—could be completely eliminated. In fact, the Priority Groups themselves could be eliminated.
The VA was established as a healthcare system to serve all veterans. This promise has been continually eroded. Thousands of veterans are still excluded from even applying for VA healthcare benefits. This is a travesty and a disgrace in a country where nearly 50 million people have no healthcare. Veterans need healthcare and further burden the public sector when it is denied by the VA. Veterans have already paid for their healthcare through their military service.
CVO calls for Full Mandatory Funding and Full Eligibility for all Veterans of VA healthcare. We ask you and your organization to join us now!
* Source: VFW Magazine, May 2012, Washington Wire.